Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, have discovered that insects leave tiny DNA traces on the flowers they visit. This newly developed eDNA method holds a vast potential for documenting unknown insect-plant interactions, keeping track of endangered pollinators, such as wild bees and butterflies, as well as in the management of unwanted pest species.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) can provide an overview of the DNA sequences in complex samples such as water and soil, and thereby a snapshot of the species inhabiting the particular ecosystem. In previous analyses of water samples from lakes and oceans, researchers have fx found DNA traces from insects, amphibians, fish and whales.
Flowers as DNA collectors
Flower-rich grassland habitats like meadows are typically visited by hundreds of species of insects such as bees, butterflies, flies and beetles, which collect food from the flowers. However, it can obviously be quite difficult to keep track of which insect species visit which flower. MORE
Header image: The butterfly European skipper (Thymelicus lineola). Credit: Ole Martin.